Study Site Trials

The SICS selected for trialling in this Study Site are described below:

General Treatment Category Study Site Trials
Tillage,
cover crops,
amendments
 1.Organic soil amendments in wheat fields - mineral fertilization, solid pig manure, VFG compost, wood chips and pig manure + lava grit
2.Soil cultivation and soil cover in maize - strip till in living rye cover crop; Strip till in destroyed rye cover crop; Undersowing grass; Non inversion tillage; Control- normal ploughing
 

SICS 1 :- Organic soil amendments in wheat fields - mineral fertilization, solid pig manure, compost, wood chips and pig manure + lava grit

 Piling up woodchip to be spread over the trial fields. Photo credit: BDB

 

 

 

Belgium experiment 1 amendments front coverRead this fact sheet in Dutch here

 Ammendments

 

 

 

 

 Key findings on woodchips

  • No measurable differences in soil organic carbon content were identified within the timeframe of the project, but the potential for carbon build-up in the long term is demonstrated by RothC simulations.
  • Significant increases in water infiltration rate were found as a result of applying the organic soil amendments.
  • Temporary N immobilisation (high C/N ratio): if in autumn: decreased risk of nitrate leaching during winter; if in spring: less crop available N; follow-up and adaptation of N fertilization required.
  • The SICS had no negative effects on crop development nor on crop yield.
  • Context of Flemish manure legislation: low N and P content allows for the application of larger quantities.
  • Current waste legislation, availability of wood chips as well as costs are possible barriers. (Financial) support and incentives from policy are needed.
  • Stakeholders appear to be broadly receptive to the idea of applying woodchips as organic soil amendments.
  • Longer-term studies are needed to determine whether there are any long-term effects of using these amendments

 

SICS 2 :- Soil cultivation and soil cover in maize - strip till in living rye cover crop; Strip till in destroyed rye cover crop; Undersowing grass; Non inversion tillage; Control- normal ploughing

strip till

Belgium experiment 23 FinalDraft front coverRead this fact sheet in Dutch here
tillage

 

Key findings for strip tillage in maize and grass undersowing in maize

Strip tillage in maize:

  • There are serious bottlenecks regarding practical implementation, ecological impact (Roundup for destruction of grass cover) and pest control (wireworms).

Grass undersowing in maize:

  •  The context of CAP greening measures and derogation rules regarding cover crops are important to note when considering adopting this SICS.
  •  Knowledge and expertise are required in terms of when to undertake undersowing, sowing technique, grass species, and weed control.
  •  Results varied depending on the weather conditions.
  •  Promising technique for erosion prevention, reduction of nitrate leaching and improving soil organic carbon content.

 

  

Geographical description

The study site is situated in the East of Leuven (indicated as blue area) at an elevation varying between 20 and 100 masl. It includes the communities of Leuven, Holsbeek, Lubbeek, Boutersem, Bierbeek and Lovenjoel. The Bodemkundige Dienst van België is situated at the Western border of the study site, while the Zoötechnisch Centrum lies within the study site. On the map the long-term (since 1997) compost trial (in green), as well as some of the long-term (since 2002) trials on reduced tillage (in purple) are indicated.  The study site is indicated in blue.

Flanders map

The maritime temperate climate in Flanders is characterised by significant precipitation in all seasons (no dry season),fresh/humid summers and relatively mild/rainy winters (according to the Köppen climate classification:Cfb). The average annual temperature is 10.5°C (3.3 in January and 18.4 in July), while the average minimal temperature is 6.9°C and the average maximal temperature is 14.2°C.The average annual rainfall is 852.4 mm. The study site is characterized by sandy, sandy loam and loamy soils. At parcel level also a variation in soil erosion potential is present in the study site.

Cropping systems

Cropping intensity
The study site is characterised mainly by conventional cropping systems. However, also conservation cropping systems (e.g. reduced tillage) and to a smaller extent organic cropping systems are present. In general in Flanders, crop production is highly intensive (high inputs, high yields).Types of crop
Mainly cereals, sugar beet, potato, maize, grass, apple and pear orchards. Management of soil, water, nutrients and pests 

Multi-actor approach

Relevant end-users and stakeholders
Farmers, farmers associations (like Boerenbond and Algemeen Boeren Syndicaat), governmental extension services (ADLO in Flanders), policy makers like VLM (Flemish Land Agency), LNE (the Environment, Nature and Energy Department of the Flemish Government), but also other stakeholders of the rural area, e.g. inhabitants, tourists.

  

Soilmap Soilerosionmap
Map indicating the different agricultural
regions present in de study site. From light to dark
colour, Flemish sand region, Sandy loam region and
Loam region
Map indicating the potential soil erosion at
parcel level. Green: soil erosion potential is very low, yellow: soil erosion potential is low, orange: soil erosion potential is medium, red: soil erosion potential is high and purple: soil erosion potential is very high